Day 3.

It has been unsurprisingly quiet, but a few brave souls have ventured out.

A careful, tidy studio.

I have managed to research and create a couple of images. Time is valuable, never wasted, though sometimes difficult to focus if you are ‘waiting’ for someone, any one, to arrive.


I came across an image of a ‘Wild” swimmer, (while preparing to light the fire) and combined it with some Gelli plate messing, (the background). We don’t always know from where inspiration will strike!

Xianzi #metoo China

And – While tidying the studio I found a two year old colour supliment dedicated to women who had – Made A Difference. I was fearful to Google them in order to see where they stood two years later – (task ongoing) . Our sound bite world had highlighted for me their achievements in 2018… But maybe were less rigorous about any follow up stories .

On The Beach.

Closer to home. This image is of my sister in law and friend, Jo. Taken when we swam off the shingle shore near Bognor, the day before her fathers cremation.

My pleasure has been in finding, that although I thought I had the measure of this mode of image making, i have actually found myself slipped into an unexpected other gear. Much more potential and unexplored possibilities – its like digging the ground for a root of potatoes. Pure pleasure.

NORTH East Open Studios – 2020

It feels like the first time, the terrain is so uncertain. I have been here so many times before but never with the cloud of covid hanging over all.

I have put in a one way system to keep distance and to be able to sanitise after people have wondered through. A lot of the work has been exhibited before but this event is an opportunity to refresh, review and remove.

I will get on with some work and maybe some folk will want to come, and share some time with me.

Front to Back

Neos Time Approaches

As I sweep the floor, mend the walls, clean, put filler in the pin holes, paint, repaint, reduce, edit, assess: I think about years past. The years with Gabi and Phil and the many others who have shared the spaces. The first year was bathed in sunshine while we twiddled thumbs. There was a year of ripe plumbs and red admiral buttereflies, more years of plumbs and apples falling. The year of 2000 visitors (my dad keeping record), and a better year with an audience totaling 79. (It’s not about the numbers.)

And this year. Already exceptional – face masks, disinfectant spray and hand gell.


I have work planned. Visitors can join in. Monoprint, draw or paint, The time is valuable to share or to get on and work alone. It’s time allocated for Open Studios.

Work table…

I have chased the mess from the back door to the front, in the same direction as the one way route I have devised for any visitor. The flow is heralded by broom, mop and hoover.

And paintbrush.

I like this time. For what ever follows, the studio is primed and ready.

Paintings Delivered.

Today, I drove the picturesque roads from Kemnay to Ballater. Delivering paintings to Larks Gallery. In these unprecedented times, to have a deadline for delivery of work is a much needed focus. This year seems to be passing in a blur of destructure, the parameters that help stabilise my (our) days have been severed. So I am grateful for those people who have tried to keep doors open and have worked to continue to present creative work to a smaller audience.


Framed at short notice by the ever patient Leslie Mckensie. (Frameworks, Clinterty).

Ghost Arum
Bursting With Colour

The works looked more splended than I had hoped.

It’s such mixture of emotions for me delivering work. I want people to see them and maybe appreciate them enough to purchase. But there is also the fear they will be passed by or


It’s done. They are there now. No more for me to do but pick them up again in months time .

Obsession is OK.


I grow them. Admire them. Paint them. As a motif they offer seductive lines. Classic refined beauty. Sensual simplicity that feels challenging to emulate.


I am working in a lovely tunnel of my our devising. Sort of experimenting. Which is, sort of an excuse for open ended painting. I know that means, there is no deadline, or pressure to resolve.


Who knows, where it will take me – I’ll know if I get there.

Arum studies. Watercolour.

Still working on this. Like an unfinished coversation, I woke up thinking about something to add.

And finally. After a few days, (but it could be longer), of revisiting, waking up with an idea or resolution, sometimes a solution to a visual problem – the clunky dark bottom right corner…

Arum painting. Finished – I think.

Obsession is also a form of commitment. To not give up too quickly. Or to call it finished too soon. To be more rigorous about observing the work and resolving those niggly shapes and to adjust tones that are too dark, or too light. To deal with areas that are weak – not to be complacent or satisfied too easily. Ask more of yourself. To always want it to be better.

A Fresh Line of Enguiry.

It’s not all plain sailing – having all this time to paint is good – if one has a plan or project. Sketching is my default – when I am without a scheme of works to drive my motivation.

A fist full of garden flowers.

We have the opportunity to experiment – with no looming deadline.

Hound on hand made paper.

Looking for different effects and less familiar marks.

Being a bit playful.

WC Paint on hand made paper.

Time to practice and not to produce.

Splashing about with blousy garden poppies.

Just paint. Get paper and watercolours and shut the noise of the real world out.  Clean water regularly. Use Pure colour as much as possible with lots of water to create lighter tones. Glazing for depth and making complex colours – transparent layers capturing  that ‘something’ that mixing cannot offer. For the love of it.

More fun for me in the making than for the viewer in the seeing.

The first pass is often more cathartic than effective. Solving painting riddles and exorsizing imps. (The painting imps that want so much with so little effort.)

I feel often that the beginner painter believes  ‘I’ve started so I must finish’ instead of, ‘I’ll give this a go, and if it doesn’t work out or please me I’ll try again’

Orientals no. 2

A freer composition. I felt much more pleasure at its open possibility and allowing the eye to roam around the surface. I had not boxed myself into a corner..

Still flowing but with compositional gaps.
Some progress. And then I went back to the first one.
Compositional changes and glazing layers.

So much time.

It’s a truth that when I have more time, like now, to do as I please, I become more wasteful of it. My weekly structure has disintrigated. My self diciplin has become flabby and I my activities are more dictated by the whims of weather than an efficient creative being.

Though a lot of what I am doing just now is not visible. Painting or tending the garden both have a step back and admire moment, which may be transitory, still however fleeting – a mown lawn lasts about a week.

This precious time is being largely taken up by helping administrate an art exhibition. Which in the three months of lock down has gone from a physical show with delivered works, to an online presentation. 

Yellow Brick Road

Not long after arriving in Scotland I met three very different creative people. One day we got together to go to Sunny Side Bay. One baught with her the picnic items which were foods to taste for a wedding menu. One was going to show us a rare plant she knew was down on the rocky shoreline. One was usually provider of the venue for a life drawing group that three of us attended. Living closer by the bay she provided the information of where to meet for our adventure. And I took my watercolour sketching kit.

We talked and walked. We ate the delicious food and made helpful comment, (yummy) and i sketched. We saw the rare flower and dolphins dancing round a fishing boat out at sea. We found treasure . A boat brush, a long thick rope.

And like with this art show, we hoped for some of these things without knowing they were there or what they were, or what they would taste or look like. We got so much more from the company and scenery than we ever imagined. I remember it rained on our way back up the path, but that did not damp the day, so memorable and bonding.

It was many years ago.

The group who are pulling together to turn closure and cancellation into a positive open door, have encountered so many unexpected hurdles, not least from within. We have been challenged and out of nessesity, required to embrace new methods and initiatives. At the same time as even more issues have manifested themselves, Unseen, unencountered before and all needing solutions. New ground, new rules, rewriting the script.

We are not finished yet. Today I expect more letters… Some of praise and thanks, or outraged at our shambolic procedures. Others recognising the efforts involved and the time it all takes. Admiring what we are aiming to achieve and some lost passwords. The enormous fees, the misread, the misinterpreted, our total incompetence and the creation of an amazing virtual gallery.

I personally will not have much to show for this time.

But there are some amazing people rising up and doing what is needed – a collaboration of energy attitude and skills – supporting and encouraging and creating an online gallery that will serve the societys members and more, well into the future.

A pleine aire

The warmer weather returns to co-inside with completing (still ongoing actually – but completed in the sence that it is resolved), a work trail in the studio. So I have time to go out and play.

On Sunday it was warm enough to sit out painting for over an hour. Until the rain I had indicated in the threatening sky came down on me

Drawing, sketching, painting outside is like I imagine the best form of meditation to be. All other thoughts are vanquished. I am at one with view in front of me and everything else in my head gets put into perspective .

Creating Chaos

The process I am describing is of Making a mess and then tidying up. Different ways of working are interesting to observe, thats why we like seeing artists studios in the raw – not all tidied up as they are during open weeks. (I might not bother to tidy this year if it happens! ) – what I do and how I do it may not be appropriate for other people. But maybe affirming for some.

I try to start with a clear space and the things I think might be useful close at hand. But once I get going it becomes a mess that I try to navigate through without loosing the thread.

Tidied after 5 weeks of messing.

I remember seeing Frances Bacons studio and was horrified. (it was a long time ago). That he could paint such fine orderly paintings (because they are not in any way haphazard), in such a confined mess. But he had a straight pathway through the piles of rubbish on either side, (mostly empty paint tubes), to the canvas. A clear view through the chaos.

That is the relevance for me, that I can keep sight of the possibility of the image. Or images. Confidence while creating and to retain that confidence still, even when looking at it in a tidy world.

The images are being stretched face down to flatten out bulges and crinkles.

Cut the flattered paper carefully away from the tape.

I Do, I Undo, I Redo. Louise Bourgeois made three monumental towers that represented the title. They were the first exhibit in the Tate Modern turbine hall when it opened. What I understand of that title has become my mantra. And I will be undoing and redoing this work again. And maybe again still.